Rice Noodles at an Organic Farm

While searching for some unique experiences to try out during my visit to Luang Prabang a couple of weeks ago, I came across an interesting tour that stated it would involve making rice noodles from scratch. Intrigued I booked the tour and was informed that I would be picked up at 8.50am on the day of the tour from my accommodation place. As the tour operator had mentioned that I was the only one booked for the day, I was surprised to see a family of three when I got into the van. One of them had been working in Luang Prabang for the past 7 months and had already gone on this tour and had decided to take her visiting parents to share her experience of the organic farm.

The guide introduced himself as Lee and informed us that we would be visiting his family’s farm. He explained that there were 7 brothers in the family and him being the 7th brother, the farm was called Lee 7 farm.

Upon arriving at the organic farm, a group of children greeted us and Lee mentioned that they were his and his siblings’ kids, who were all at the farm because it was the weekend. He also introduced us to two children from the neighbouring village, who were learning English, and who he had invited over to the farm during tour days so that they could practice their language skills with visitors.  Lee first gave us a tour of his herb and vegetable patch, where he was growing different herbs and supplying to restaurants in the city.

IMG_0779.JPGAfter sharing some of his successful and unsuccessful farming stories, Lee pointed out his family’s paddy fields and mentioned that the rice grown on the farm was just sufficient for his extended family’s annual rice consumption.

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We were then introduced to his buffalo, Pling, and a demonstration of ploughing a plot of land was given.
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After the others in the group tried out the ploughing, we pulled some paddy from the nursery and planted it in the international rice patch, so called because Lee had his international visitors to the farm sow the paddy in that patch.

Then, Lee proceeded to show us how the rice was threshed and then winnowed and the different ways of carrying the grain baskets. We moved to the rice de-husking area with one of the baskets and ground the de-husked grains to rice flour.

Lee explained that the rice flour was fermented for a few days before being made into rice noodles. A teacher by profession, Lee mentioned that he had got the idea for the tour when he realized that very few of the younger generations in his village knew how to make rice noodles. Given that his neighbour was an expert noodle maker, Lee decided to partner with her to share their heritage with the younger generations as well as international visitors.

Lee’s neighbour then demonstrated how the fermented rice flour was kneaded and converted to the noodle batter.

The batter was then squeezed into a pot of boiling water and cooked for a few minutes.

Once the noodles were cooked, it was transferred to a pot of cold water and then transferred to the serving tray.

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After showing me how to make a papaya salad, Lee invited us to have our freshly made lunch of rice noodles with steamed vegetables and papaya salad.

IMG_0848The freshly made rice noodles was delicious with the tangy papaya salad and the four of us enjoyed it seated around a low table on a raised platform overlooking the paddy fields.

IMG_0854.jpgLee decided to make us some fresh sugarcane juice after lunch and we relaxed with the sweet drink while sharing some of our travel plans for the coming days.

The Lee7Farm tour is an authentic experience that I would recommend and especially as it supports a local entrepreneur trying to maintain and share his organic lifestyle.

Fifi and Hop

Special Six: Taste of Karnataka

 

During my holiday in Bangalore last week, I tried a few of Karnataka’s traditional dishes. Here are the special six tastes of Karnataka that I would recommend visitors to the state to try.

(1) Kesari Bath

During my visit to the neighbourhood of Basavanagudi, I had searched for an eatery specializing in local cuisine. I came across Vidyarthi Bhavan, a vegetarian eatery that started out in 1943 as a student canteen. While their dosas are quite famous, according to the waiter and the family who sat at my table, I decided to only try out Kesari Bath. This semolina sweet is a variation of the Kesari that is made in Sri Lanka and most South Indian states.

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(2) Filter Coffee

After having had some terrible coffee in the first few coffee shops I had tried since arriving in Bangalore, the filter coffee at Vidyarthi Bhavan was a pleasant surprise. Simple and unassuming and served in tiny stainless steel cups, the hot beverage was a treat.

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(3) Thatte Idli

On the drive to Mysore, the driver asked if I would like to stop for tiffin at Bidadi. According to him, “the idlis are famous here”. So, I took his advice and tried out the plate idlis made of a mixture of urad dhal (black gram), flattened rice and tapioca pearls. The resulting dish was very light and soft and tasted more like ‘appam’/ hoppers than idli.
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(4) Mylari Dosa

During my search for local eateries in Mysore, I came across Hotel Mylari, an institution that started around 80 years ago and serves the unique Mylari Dosa made from a secret family recipe. With all the great reviews of this dosa, I had to try it out during my visit to the city. The tiny place only served dosas and the waiter served me mine on a plate with a banana leaf and with a dollop of butter and chutney.

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The famous Mylari Dosa

(5) Rava Idli

On my last evening in Bangalore, I decided to go for evening tiffin at Mavalli tiffin room, another old eatery in the city that was started in 1924 and now has several branches around the city. I had read that they were the ones who concocted the first ‘rava idli’, which to this day remains a popular favourite at the eatery. So, I decided to try it out on my last evening in the city.

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(6) Nippattu

I noticed that the counter near the cashier had lots of packaged snacks and browsing through them, I decided to try out a fried snack called ‘Nippattu’. The snack is made of rice flour, fried gram and peanuts. It is quite addictive and I was not able to take a photo of it before my family consumed it all.

Which of the above six would you be interested in trying during your visit to Karnataka?

Swedish Food I miss

A Swedish friend once asked me what typical Swedish food I missed. This post is about all the food that I miss from my years in Stockholm.

  1. Kanelbulle

My favourite Swedish food is kanelbulle (cinnamon buns). The smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns and the texture and taste of the bun is unique to Sweden and I have loved it since I first tried it out. I have tried making my own kanelbulle as I started enjoying baking in recent years, but have not been able to get it quite right yet. As you can see from the photo below, courtesy of Visit Sweden, a perfect kanelbulle is a wonderful treat for all ages.

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Credits: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se

2. Vetebröd

Fika is a ritual in Sweden. I loved the fika breaks, chats over cups of Swedish coffee, like Gevalia, and a baked treat. One of my favourite fika treats, besides kanelbulle, is vetebröd. This is a lightly sweetened cardamom bread, that is perfect with coffee. I have tried making vetebröd at home several times using this recipe, which has turned out quite well.

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Source: Tasteline

3. Semla

This is a Swedish seasonal treat that makes its appearance in Stockholm bakeries during winter months and particularly for Shrove Tuesday. Semla is basically cardamom buns with an almond paste and whipped cream filling. What I like most about this tasty treat, besides the delicious combination of flavours, is that the cream is just a touch sweet without being too much.

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Credits: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se

4. Lusekatter

These saffron buns are made typically for St Lucia’s day on December 13. I was first introduced to it at work, during my teaching year at the International School of Stockholm. It is a lovely Scandinavian tradition, with children participating in a singing procession led by one girl dressed as St. Lucy, wearing a white dress and a red sash and a crown of candles on her head. The kids would share these saffron buns or cookies with others.

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Source: Swedish food

5. Glögg och pepparkakor

Something served during the Christmas season, Glögg (mulled wine) and Pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) are a delicious treat during the cold winter days. In Sweden, there was also a non-alcoholic version of glögg called julmust, which was what my mother used to serve at home to visitors in December. My favourite memory of this combination of glögg and pepparkakor was at the ice-hotel in Kiruna, when after hours of waiting on the frozen river to see the northern lights, the warm spiced wine and cookies tasted delicious and wonderful.

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Credits: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

6. Pannkakor och sylt

I have always been a huge fan of pancakes since I was a kid and sundays at home generally mean a pancake breakfast. So, it automatically followed that during my year of teaching in Stockholm, my favourite school lunch was the same as that of the kids – Swedish pancakes and sylt (jam or preserve), mostly lingonberry.

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Source: Swedish food

7. Pytt i Panna

After seeing many adverts on TV on this dish, we tried out the store bought pytt i panna (Swedish hash) and it soon started appearing on a regular basis at meal times at home. I like the vegetarian hash, with carrots, turnips, radish etc. more.

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Source: Swedish Food

8. Räksmörgås 

The Swedish open prawn sandwich makes for a delicious lunch. If you are able to get hold of a Toast Skagen, you are in for a bigger treat. I missed this so much so that I went to a Scandinavian Christmas fair in London, for this sandwich and a kanelbulle.

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Source: Swedish food

9. Salmon with new potatoes and dill sauce

This is a typical combination in a Swedish meal – new potatoes and dill sauce with poached salmon or gravlax (dill cured salmon). We didn’t make it at home but I often chose it, when eating out in Stockholm.

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Source: Swedish Food

10. Ris à la Malta

I am a huge fan of Swedish rice pudding. One of my friends, Inna, and I used to play badminton at Frescatihallen at Stockholm University once or twice a week and we always treated ourselves to risifrutti (which is basically packaged store-bought ris a la malta) or mannafrutti, after our game.

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Source: Swedish Food

Which is your favourite Swedish food? Or, which of the above would you love to try out during your visit to Sweden?

[I had drafted this post a while back but had not got around to finishing it, when I saw that the #travellinkup theme for September was memorable meals so I decided to share this post on food that make me nostalgic about my years in Stockholm, with the monthly link up, hosted by Angie, Emma, Jessi and Tanja

I am also linking it up to :
Wanderful Wednesday, hosted by Snow in Tromso, Lauren on Location, The Sunny Side of This and What a Wonderful World]
Wanderful Wednesday